This could be the greatest thing I've ever done ... or it could be an unmitigated disaster.
I've had a great job for over six years. Good salary, excellent health insurance, paid vacations and sick days.
I like the people I work with and I'm not terrible at what I do. I've had the opportunity to have a voice in the shaping of my community and the future of my hometown.
And then ... I just quit.
(I know. Stay with me here.)
I wasn't happy going to work. How spoiled, right?
Who leaves a good, solid job for some nebulous idea of something better? I had insurance, for God's sake! What on earth was wrong with me?
This is what was wrong with me: I was in a place I didn't want to be and I was doing something I didn't really want to do. I lived in my hometown all my life and my job, while a great opportunity, wasn't what I wanted to really do.
I wasn't satisfied with my life where those two issues were concerned. It became a distraction from the things I did like and the things that made me happy. I needed to see more and be more.
But there's more to it than that.
When I was in my early twenties, my mom changed. Something turned her into a different person than the woman I'd known. We had a falling out, partially due to these changes, partially due to me being too self-centered to understand it wasn't about me.
We didn't speak for seven years. I spent my twenties without a mom, which I understand isn't rare but it was still hard to take.
When I was about 27 or 28, we reconciled, largely because we now had a name for what had changed her: early-onset dementia. We never definitively learned if it was Alzheimer's-related or not, but it didn't matter at that point.
As anyone who's endured watching a family member suffer with dementia knows, it only has one outcome and it moves on a timeline all its own. It's a cruel disease, both for the person owning it and those who are watching helplessly from the outside. She passed away around my 31st birthday.
She'd worked all her life, along with my dad. They were married from before the time I was born until the day she died. They were solid and dependable and they did what they were supposed to do.
They raised me and I never wanted for anything. My dad and I are still close and I usually see him several times a week.
So what does all of this have to do with me quitting a perfectly fine job?
I feared losing time.
I feared learning that this condition is hereditary (my maternal grandfather may have had a more traditional form of dementia, as well) and that I could fall to it in another twenty years.
I feared learning that I saved for a retirement I'd never enjoy because my mind would be gone and I'd be immobile.
I feared that I'd never see the Grand Canyon or the Ozarks or New York at Christmastime.
I feared waking up every day to do something I didn't really want to do and having that be my life.
So, I quit my job and changed everything.
Fast forward to present day. My husband and I are going into business for ourselves and looking for remote work we can do from anywhere.
We're fixing up the house we own to either put on the market or rent out. We're going to buy two RVs — a big one for him to drive with our six cats and a smaller one for me to drive with our two dogs who hate cats — and we're going to hit the road.
We'll do our work online, we'll "workamp" at RV parks (which is what they call working in exchange for utility hookups), we'll visit friends and family we never get to see, and mostly: we'll live.
We're using my savings to finish off the house and just going for it.
This could be the greatest thing I've ever done ... or it could be an unmitigated disaster. I really have no idea.
Maybe I'll regret this more than I could possibly imagine. Maybe this will be the thing that makes my life truly great. I have no way of knowing, but I'm going for it.
It's terrifying to just eschew all of the familiar, solid, predictable things you've always known and jump headfirst into something totally foreign. My ancestors did it, leaving Ireland and England and coming here to the unknown, but they had pretty solid reasons to get away from something.
I'm just looking to get away from being mundane and mediocre and from feeling like I'm settling for less than I want. It's not really the same heroic story.
My husband is completely onboard with all of this, for the record. He wants to travel and see the country and all our loved ones. He's an excellent partner-in-crime, full of a sense of adventure and wanderlust.
It's good to have that energy to bounce off of. We're looking at ridiculous obstacles and finding ways around them. We're making impossible plans and making them possible.
Maybe I'm worried for nothing when it comes to losing time. I'm in excellent health, every check-up says all categories are ideal, my diet is healthy, I exercise, I have an active social life and I rarely sit at home, I'm finishing up a degree, and I'm a voracious reader.
All of these things should theoretically protect me from dementia. Maybe I'll be fine until a ripe, old age and none of this will touch me.
But maybe not.
If I do only have another twenty years, I'm not wasting them. I'm doing everything I can in that span of time.
If this is the only life I get to live, I'm the only who has to be responsible for what I do with it. So, for better or for worse, I'm diving in and doing this thing.
I've got my fingers and toes crossed. Here's to the future.